Who We Are

Get to know the BCLSS

What We Do

Lake Stewardship, Monitoring, and Education

Did you know that BC has over 200,000 lakes? They are one of our most valuable resources and provide drinking water, habitat for wildlife, energy, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty, and connection to the natural world. They have important cultural, heritage, and ceremonial values for Indigenous Peoples. It is critical to protect the health of lakes in the province.

Lake stewardship is the careful and responsible management of lakes and the practice of protecting and restoring them to ensure that they are healthy into the future. The BC Lake Stewardship Society (BCLSS) is dedicated to strengthening the stewardship sector to ensure the preservation and protection of British Columbia’s lakes. We work collaboratively with scientists, environmental professionals, First Nations, stewardship groups, lakeshore residents, the general public, and government agencies to keep our lakes healthy.

The BCLSS promotes stewardship and understanding of lakes, reservoirs, and watersheds and provides information, training, and resources to concerned citizens. Our programs empower volunteers throughout BC to take action and steward their local lakes.

The BCLSS aims to further expand and strengthen the provincial network of lake stewards by participating in community events, meeting with school groups, providing workshops, and hosting conferences.

If you are interested in learning more about your lake and becoming a lake steward, please contact us. 

 

We must conceive stewardship not simply one individual’s practice, but rather as the mutual and intimate relationship extending across the generations, between a human community and its place on earth. John Elder.

Our Board
of Directors

Proud of Our People

At BCLSS, we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Board of Directors. We value the insight and individual passion that each Director brings to the table. Through strong leadership, solid strategy planning, and passionate collaboration, BCLSS will continue to keep BC lakes beautiful. Read on to find out more about each Director and how to contact them.


Brian Nickurak

(Kootenays)

Brian is currently an Operations Manager with School District #6 in the East Kootenays. He has been involved in the creation of two lake stewardship groups; at Twin Lakes by Penticton and Windermere Lake at Invermere where he resides. Brian has extensive experience in municipal water and wastewater treatment and experience and training in limnology from the BCLSS. He is an Applied Science Technologist in BC (AScT), Certified Public Works Inspector (CPWI), a Real Property Administrator (RPA), and contract administrator with MMCD. Brian feels a deep connection with lakes and profoundly enjoys his time on and in lakes. He fully appreciates volunteers working hard to understand and protect BC’s valuable fresh water lakes and commits to supporting these individuals and groups to every extent possible through the BCLSS.


Kristi Carter

(Okanagan)

Kristi Carter is the Associate Director, Academic Programs for the Faculty of Management at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Prior to that she was fortunate to work as a Project Coordinator for the BCLSS from 2004 – 2015. Although her career shifted from the non-profit world to academia, she’s never lost her passion for environmental protection. She presently serves as a BCLSS Director and is on the executive committee, as Treasurer. She lives in the Okanagan and in her “spare time” she likes to study, travel, exercise, read, and above all else, spend time with her husband and two children.


Irene Calbick

(Lower Mainland)

Irene has been a BC Lake Stewardship Director since 2000 and was also a Director of the Gun Lake Ratepayers Association for many years. She has been involved in lake stewardship for about 45 years when a group of Gun Lake residents became concerned about potentially harmful effects on the watershed. She was involved with establishing the Gun Lake Ratepayers Association in 1980 to protect the watershed and promote good watershed practices.


Marge Sidney

(Thompson – Nicola)

Marge received a diploma in Fish, Wildlife and Recreation from BCIT in 1976 and a BSc from SFU in 1980. She is a Registered Professional Biologist and retired in April 2019 after 40 years with the Ministry of Environment in Kamloops. Her background is fisheries, working on many lake management projects such as lake inventory, lake classification for land use planning, lake aeration, and lake treatments using Rotenone, as well as many other projects. Marge then worked in the Environmental Protection Division, Water Quality Program and worked on Regional Water Quality projects. In addition she has also been involved in wetland construction/restoration with the Ecological Restoration Program from BCIT at Logan Lake, wetland construction at Gardom Lake, the BC Lake Monitoring Network and lake groups with the BCLSS. She loves and has worked on small lakes in the BC interior for most of her career. The BC Lake Stewardship Society became a natural fit for her as she became the liaison between the Ministry, the BCLSS, and the lake groups in the Thompson-Nicola in 2005 and was able to bring her background knowledge on various lakes to the general public and assist them with their questions and data collection. Through this she found that she really enjoyed working with the public. In 2010 she joined the BCLSS Board of Directors and in 2015 moved back to her hometown of Armstrong. Since retiring she has been able to work under contract with the BC Lake Engagement Initiative and reconnect with lakes and stewardship groups around the province.


Hamish Kassa

(Columbia-Shuswap)

Hamish is the Environmental Services Coordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).  He currently manages the Eurasian Water Milfoil Control Program, the region’s mosquito control programs,  the Noxious Weed Control Program, groundwater monitoring functions, and inspections and maintenance of CSRD dikes. He is the current Chair of  the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society, Chair of the Canadian Columbia Basin Invasive Species Steering Committee, Technical Representative for the Shuswap Watershed Council, as well as past Director of the Western Aquatic Plant Management Society and Canadian Association of Nordic Skiers BC.  Hamish has previous career experience with the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Ministry of Environment, Taranaki Catchment Commission, and the North Okanagan Regional District in a variety of positions related to water quality, protection, management, and invasive species. He also has extensive underwater experience logging more than 4000 hours on SCUBA as well as receiving underwater photography awards while working  in New Zealand.  During the winter Hamish can be found sliding on fluffy powder snow with friends and family.


Bruce Kosugi

(Peace)

Bruce loves the North, having lived in the BC Peace area for over 20 years. Originally from a big city in the east, he finds environmental awareness and concern is just as strong with northerners. Perhaps it is due to being truly blessed with clean air and water along with having nature at our back door.
Bruce’s interest in nature and science began as a youngster exploring ponds and streams. This influenced his choice of later obtaining a degree in chemistry. His career in the oil and gas industry helped him understand the vital responsibility for environmental stewardship in resource development.
Bruce is a long time board member of the Charlie Lake Conservation Society. The Society has been actively involved in stewardship activities including water quality monitoring, shoreline restorations, clean ups, public and stakeholder workshops as part of its watershed stewardship strategic plan.
He is also a past director and active volunteer with the Northern Environmental Action Team. NEAT promotes greater awareness and understanding for sustaining our environment and strengthening our communities in Peace area.
In his spare time you might find Bruce taking part in a variety of community events, paddling on Charlie Lake, hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing in this amazing place in British Columbia.


Chris Swan

(Cariboo)

Chris obtained her Biology degree from the University of Victoria in 1991. She went to the Cariboo Region on a Co-op work term (which included lake sampling), fell in love with the area, and never left. Chris has worked as a biologist for the Province of BC in the Cariboo Region in various capacities including Ecosystems, Wildlife and Water Quality for over 25 years.
Chris spent 14 years running the regional volunteer lake monitoring program in partnership with BCLSS and has assisted with the delivery of three LakeKeepers Courses to stewards in the Cariboo Region. In addition, she has conducted hundreds of lake sampling trips in the Cariboo region involving water quality, phyto- and zoo-plankton, periphyton, fish, mussel veliger and sediment collection. She has experience conducting benthic invertebrate sampling programs, working with stewardship groups on watershed assessments, and was responsible for assessing environmental impacts from point and non-point sources (primarily forestry and mining). She also has experience with assessment of the impact of mine tailings on lake water quality in the Cariboo. She has an interest in aquatic plants and has mapped plant communities in Bouchie and Kibbee Lakes, and assessed Elodea canadensis (Canadian Waterweed) in Bowron Lake.
Chris is passionate about lakes and is continually learning and inspiring others in the field of limnology. When Chris moved to a new position within the Ministry in 2018, she wanted to maintain her connection to the lake volunteers and important ongoing lake work so she joined the BCLSS Board of Directors.


Kirsten McNeill

(Omineca)

Kirsten was raised in Burns Lake in the Skeena region of BC and grew up camping, boating, fishing and orienteering. From a young age she knew she wanted to work in the outdoors, and water was her calling! She graduated from Okanagan University College (now UBCO) with a B.Sc. in Freshwater Science in 2005, and became an R.P.Bio in 2014. Kirsten started working with MOE in 2005 as a co-op student through the BCCC (BC Conservation Corps), then as an auxiliary in 2006, and finally as a full time employee in 2008. She has worked with MOE in the Cariboo, Thompson and Omineca-Peace regions, and currently works out of the Prince George office as a Sr. Water Quality Technician coordinating the Volunteer Lake Monitoring program for the Province. She spends her off time with her husband, daughter and dog going camping and doing road trips! In her all too rare “me time” she is an arrant crafter and bibliophile!


Rick Nordin

(Vancouver Island)

Rick was born and grew up in Northwestern Ontario with summers spent at the family cottage on Lake of the Woods. During three summers during university he worked as a fishing guide on Lake of the Woods. His academic training is a B.Sc in Biology (1970), a M.Sc (1971) in fisheries / limnology both from the University of North Dakota and a PhD from the University of British Columbia (phycology / limnology) in 1974. Rick worked for the BC Ministry of Environment from 1974 to 2002 as the provincial specialist in limnology and water quality – job title for most of this period was Provincial Limnologist. He was involved with projects in all areas of BC with particular emphasis on eutrophication and drinking water protection. He taught part time  at the University of Victoria from 1989 to 2016 and had an appointment as an adjunct professor in the biology department and taught a number of courses, carried out research programs, and supervised graduate students. From 2002 to 2008, he worked as senior research scientist in the Environmental Management of Drinking Water Program at UVic. He has been a board member of BCLSS since it was formed (1997) and has also served on the board of directors for the North American Lake Management Society.


Ken Ashley

(Lower Mainland)

Ken was born and raised in Vancouver. He attended UBC and received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in the Zoology Department, specializing in aquatic ecology, and an M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. at UBC in the Faculty of Applied Sciences in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He worked for the Ministry of Environment in the Fisheries Research and Development Section on the UBC campus from 1979 to 2005, initially as a project biologist, and eventually as Section Head for Fisheries Restoration and Bioengineering. While in this position he conducted a set of large-scale adaptive management experiments, and is internationally recognized for his expertise in the design, operation and effects of lake destratification and hypolimnetic aeration/oxygenation systems, lake and reservoir fertilization, and stream/river enrichment. Ken received the Murray A. Newman Award in 1997 from the Vancouver Aquarium for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research, the Fisheries Professional of the Year in 1999 from the BC Ministry of Environment, the Seth Diamond Award for Interdisciplinary Conservation Research in 2001 from the University of Idaho-Moscow and University of Montana-Missoula and the Applied Research Award in 2022 from BCIT. Ken transferred to the Greater Vancouver Regional District from 2005 to 2007 as Senior Engineer and was the project lead for the Environmental Management team, with responsibility for raw drinking water quality, and monitoring the environmental effects of wastewater discharges from the regions five wastewater treatment plants and municipal water withdrawals from the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam rivers. Dr. Ashley was Director of the Rivers Institute at BCIT, and an instructor in BCIT’s Ecological Restoration Program from 2012 to 2023. Ken is also Vice-Chair and a Director-Trustee of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and a Director with the North Shore Streamkeepers Society.


Eric Bonham

(Vancouver Island)

Eric, a Professional Engineer, graduated in civil engineering Glasgow (1964) and with a BA in political science UVIC (1986). He has been actively involved for some 50 years in a range of water related projects in BC throughout both his working career and retirement. Eric was the Director of the Floodplain Management Branch in the Ministry of Environment, Manager of the Urban Salmon Habitat Program and, subsequently, Director of Engineering in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs during the period (1988-2004). Eric is a founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability BC (PWSBC) and an active participant in the BCLSS program in the District of Highlands, Victoria, where he initiated a community lake stewardship program including Fork Lake, Mary Lake and Teanook Lake. As a Director of the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society (GVGS) he has coordinated an ongoing lake stewardship program at Mary Lake with Royal Roads University (RRU) students. He was an active member of the Gowlland Foundation dedicated to the creation and preservation of the Gowlland-Tod Provincial Park (1994). Eric was a member on the BC Water and Waste Association Board (2004) and a community participant on the Capital Regional District (CRD) Environmental Committee. He received an Honourary Citizen of Victoria Award (1986) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) for his contribution to the community.


Deb Epps

(Vancouver Island)

Deb is an Impact Assessment Biologist, with her MSc in Biology. She has worked with the Ministry of Environment for the last 25 years. She is currently the Section Head, Provincial Water Quality, for the Monitoring, Assessment and Stewardship team. She has spent many years lake monitoring, conducting watershed assessments, and working with numerous lake stewardship groups across the province. She was instrumental in developing the most recent Provincial Lakes Monitoring Network. Deb finds the lakes volunteer groups and their assistance with collecting lake data invaluable. She currently resides in Nanaimo and has been a BCLSS Director since 2003.


Darryl Arsenault

(Okanagan)

Darryl grew up in Salmon Arm, BC, spending summers on Shuswap Lake when not working on the farm. He received a diploma in aquaculture and fisheries technology in Nanaimo and then went on complete a BSc in biology, moving from Nanaimo, to Victoria, then to Saskatoon. He started working in the environmental consulting industry in northern Saskatchewan and went back to school to complete an MSc in fisheries ecology. His primary expertise is in fish habitat protection planning, an important part of permitting for most developments located in and about water. Fish habitat protection planning is based on a solid understanding of aquatic and riparian habitat values and the ability to educate developers about those values. In this day and age, many development sites are on land that has been previously altered. This often presents an opportunity to restore and enhance altered habitats such that developments end up producing a net gain in fish habitat and fish production.


Emily Gutenberg

(Lower Mainland)

Emily Gutenberg is an Environmental Technologist in Vancouver specializing in restoration planting, erosion & sediment control, and general ecological assessments. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland exploring the great outdoors, Emily enjoys hiking, skiing, bird-watching, and refining her plant identification skills. Emily is also a certified yoga teacher and is passionate about watershed conservation in British Columbia.


Daniel Selbie

(Lower Mainland)

Daniel leads Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Lakes Research Program, in the Science Branch, at the Cultus Lake Salmon Research Laboratory. His program focuses primarily on the freshwater life histories of Pacific salmon and their natal habitats, with a focus on sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) rearing in nursery lakes. Daniel holds a Bsc.H. (Environmental Science, SSP Biology) and a Ph.D. (Biology) from Queen’s University, where he mentored under Dr. John P. Smol. He completed a Moore Foundation research fellowship at McGill University with Dr. Irene Gregory-Eaves before coming to work for DFO in 2008. Daniel holds adjunct professorships at five universities in Canada, and involves numerous undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his research. He is also Associate Editor for the scientific journal Environmental Reviews.

Daniel lives, sleeps, and breathes lake ecosystems, having grown up on a 5 lake chain, and actively working on issues at the human-aquatic interface since the early-1990’s. He led the successful Haliburton Drag River Rehabilitation Project (1999-2000) in his home town of Haliburton, Ontario, a joint federal-provincial initiative reclaiming riparian zones and enhancing spawning habitat for native walleye (Sander vitreus). Daniel’s graduate studies soon took him west, and he has conducted extensive remote fieldwork and science on Pacific salmon and lakes in Alaska, Yukon, and British Columbia, in partnership with Indigenous communities, academia, various governments, and lake stewardship groups ever since. Daniel fulfills most lake-related advice for DFO in the Pacific Region, which has included sustainable planning processes, scientific and major development reviews, federal legal actions, and environmental disaster responses.

Daniel’s research directions are broad, spanning the disciplines of limnology, paleolimnology, fisheries science, and environmental science. Current research foci include mechanisms regulating productive capacity in salmon nursery ecosystems, anthropogenic and climate change impacts and interactions on Pacific salmon and their nursery habitats, large-scale forcings on long-term salmon production dynamics, and the ecology and persistence of species at risk.

Our Staff

Our staff work tirelessly to keep us organized, provide information to the public, support our volunteers, and lend invaluable support to all BCLSS projects.  If you have general questions regarding BCLSS objectives or programs, or specific questions about your lake, please contact our staff at info@bclss.org.


Norm Zirnhelt – Executive Director/Lake Monitoring Specialist

Norm Zirnhelt is a Registered Professional Biologist with over 35 years experience in water and air quality. Norm was head of the BC Ministry of Environment’s Air/Water Quality Monitoring and Impact Assessment Section for the Cariboo Region from 1989-2010.

Norm has been Principal Consultant at his consulting firm, Cariboo Environmental Quality Consulting Ltd. (CEQC) since 2010. CEQC has completed projects on lakeshore protection in sensitive areas, aquatic benthic biology, fish tissue & water chemistry assessment in the mining sector, analysis of aquatic benthic data from a range of sites for the Ministry of Environment, and has developed & conducted training courses for impact assessment biologists for the MOE, as well as Ducks Unlimited staff. Norm currently instructs a course for Vancouver Island University on Water Quality Monitoring and Design.

Norm started working with volunteer lake stewards in 1982 on Dragon Lake and while at MOE oversaw a Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program of over 25 lakes in the Cariboo. Norm’s dedication to volunteer stewardship is evident by his work with the BCLSS – over 10 years as President. Since 2011 Norm has conducted LakeKeepers training for lake stewardship groups in the interior of BC. 

Norm and his partner, Candace, live on Opheim Lake in the Cariboo where they enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and sharing their love of nature with family, friends and guests.

norm@environmentalquality.ca

Amy Baxter – Project Coordinator

Amy’s favourite childhood memories involve learning to fish on beautiful Canadian lakes, and she knew from a young age that she wanted water and fish to be a central part of her future career.

Amy completed her BSc in Marine Biology and Oceanography before she moved to the Columbia Valley in 2015 and fell in love with the area. Since then, Amy has been lucky to have BC as a home base while travelling the world to experience various water-related professions. She has spent time in marine conservation, aquaculture, as a research diver, and as a Divemaster.

After completing her Master of Marine Studies in Fisheries Resource Management, Amy began working with non-profits on projects that benefit the ecological health of BC lakes. Amy is excited to work as Project Coordinator for BC Lake Stewardship Society while expanding her knowledge on limnology and working with passionate volunteers to protect and restore lakes in British Columbia.

amy@bclss.org